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ISSUE 5 - SRHR AMONGST KEY AND VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: A FOCUS ON PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ISSUE 5 - SRHR AMONGST KEY AND VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: A FOCUS ON PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

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One of the 17 SDGs is to ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages by 2030’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 3). Critical to realising this – and one of the SDG indicators under this goal – is to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, including family planning, information and education, and integrating reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.

At present, there is a massive global shortfall in spending on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), one that is concentrated in Africa, which accounts for 71% of the increase in spending needed to fully satisfy all unmet needs for sexual and reproductive healthcare.1 The Abuja Declaration (2001) was an historic milestone, as leaders of African nations jointly declared, for the first time, that the continent’s HIV and AIDS epidemic was a full-fledged emergency. In response, signatories of the Abuja Declaration pledged to allocate at least 15% of their national budgets to public health by 2015. However, by 2013, only two SADC countries (Malawi and Zambia) had achieved this commitment, with Lesotho and Swaziland close behind

ISSUE 6 - SRHR AMONGST KEY AND VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: A FOCUS ON MIGRANT WORKERS ISSUE 6 - SRHR AMONGST KEY AND VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: A FOCUS ON MIGRANT WORKERS

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One of the 17 SDGs is to ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages by 2030’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 3). Critical to realising this – and one of the SDG indicators under this goal – is to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, including family planning, information and education, and integrating reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.

At present, there is a massive global shortfall in spending on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), one that is concentrated in Africa, which accounts for 71% of the increase in spending needed to fully satisfy all unmet needs for sexual and reproductive healthcare.1 The Abuja Declaration (2001) was an historic milestone, as leaders of African nations jointly declared, for the first time, that the continent’s HIV and AIDS epidemic was a full-fledged emergency. In response, signatories of the Abuja Declaration pledged to allocate at least 15% of their national budgets to public health by 2015. However, by 2013, only two SADC countries (Malawi and Zambia) had achieved this commitment, with Lesotho and Swaziland close behind.

ISSUE 9 - WHAT CAN PARLIAMENTARIANS DO? ISSUE 9 - WHAT CAN PARLIAMENTARIANS DO?

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Spheres of Influence

Parliamentarians can advance sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) and HIV issues

generally at local, national and Regional levels in several ways:

• As political leaders, Parliamentarians can influence public opinion and increase public

knowledge of relevant issues;

• As legislators, Parliamentarians can vote on Acts of Parliament and ensure that legislation protects human rights and advances effective prevention and care programmes;

• As advocates, Parliamentarians can mobilise government, the private sector and civil society to discharge their societal responsibilities in responding appropriately to SRH and HIV;

• As resource mobilisers, Parliamentarians can influence the allocation of financial resources to support and enhance effective HIV and SRH programmes that are consistent with human rights principles.

ISSUE 10 - NEXT STEPS: TAKING ACTION ISSUE 10 - NEXT STEPS: TAKING ACTION

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As a Parliamentarian, you are in a unique position to bring attention to issues that may have been previously neglected, including ensuring universal access to SRHR for all. Here, a key first step is helping others to understand the economic benefits of having full provision of, and access to, SRH and HIV services.

SRHR must not be approached as an ongoing cost to the nation. It is important to convey the fact that, ensuring equitable universal SRHR is a long-term cost-saving strategy. It is vital to look to the national financial and human resource savings that will be made. Presenting the financial case for investment is a very useful advocacy strategy.

ISSUE 8 - AN OVERVIEW OF KEY SRHR AND HIV-RELATED LEGISLATIVE AND POLICY GAPS IN THE PROGRAMME’S ISSUE 8 - AN OVERVIEW OF KEY SRHR AND HIV-RELATED LEGISLATIVE AND POLICY GAPS IN THE PROGRAMME’S

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Lesotho’s policy environment supports gender equality and women’s SRH rights, however, gaps exist with implementation and customary laws continue to place women and girls at risk of HIV. GBV is not currently recognised as a criminal offence in Lesotho.

Laws on age of marriage are contradictory and allow for early marriage. The Lesotho Children’s Protection and Welfare Act defines a child as a person below the age of 18 and prohibits child marriage. However, the Marriage Act (1974) allows girls of 16 and boys of 18 to marry. There is no legal minimum age for customary marriages.

There are also contradictions between policies and laws relevant to key populations, which hampers HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) progress. Sex between men and various aspects of sex work are criminal offences. The current absence of a National AIDS Council (NAC) is also significant.

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